Robert Dale Parker is the James M. Benson Professor in English at the University of Illinois. His scholarship and teaching focus on American and Modern literature, and especially on literary form and aesthetics, history, gender, the socio-political roles of literature, and a pleasure in thinking through critical theory.
He has published two books and many articles on the fiction of William Faulkner, including Faulkner and the Novelistic Imagination (1985) and "Absalom, Absalom!": The Questioning of Fictions (1991), as well as The Unbeliever: The Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop (1988) and The Invention of Native American Literature (2003), a critical and theoretical study of the emergence of American Indian literature and American Indian literary studies across the twentieth century. He has also undertaken a large-scale recovery of early American Indian poetry, leading to a series of articles and two books: Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930 (2011) and The Sound the Stars Make Rushing through the Sky: The Writings of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (2007), which includes an edition of the works of the first-known American Indian literary writer along with a biography and cultural history. (For more information on Schoolcraft, see the website for The Sound the Stars Make Rushing through the Sky.)
Committed to merging scholarship with readability and theory with interpretation, Parker has also published How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies (2015, now in its third edition) and Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies (2012), which have attracted a wide readership across the United States and internationally. (A new, fourth edition of How to Interpret Literature is scheduled for publication September 1, 2019.)
Recognized by campus awards for both undergraduate and graduate teaching, Parker has taught courses in the various periods of American literature, especially after 1900, as well as critical theory surveys and courses in Modernist literature, American Indian literature, Faulkner, and other topics.
After earning an A.B. in English and History at Brown University and a Ph.D. in English at Yale University, Parker taught at Yale and the University of Michigan before moving to the University of Illinois. Currently, he is researching and writing about American literature from the Great Depression.
See also the website for the Department of English at the University of Illinois.